Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | August 31, 2012

Robin’s Egg Blue

Philip Johnson Glass House, Summer 2012

“Paint it any color you like, Naomi.” He says. “Blue is always nice.”

“Yeah, Dad, blue,” I say. In my mind I see the uncracked robin’s egg, whole and perfect, shiny-smooth, before a bomb composed of Dad, my brother, and a football went off in a flurry of arms, legs, and grunts.

The egg splattered on my foot. Yellow-white and gooey.

That was the week before Dad moved out. He took my brother and I stayed with Mom and that was it. Simple-easy-no-trouble-for-anyone.

Rachel said I was lucky. When her parents divorced it was all screaming and crying and her Mom even ran over her dad’s motorcycle, on purpose. I didn’t tell her that sometimes I wish my parents would fight like that. Then everybody would see what was really on the inside — not the smooth blue shell of the egg, but the gross ugly inside parts.

Now I’m helping Dad fix up the new place. Not a little apartment like Rachel’s dad. No, he found this old farmhouse and he’s going to fix the whole thing up. New paint, new custom-built cabinets, new perfect grass lawn. I swear everyone at Home Depot cheers when he drives up.

He tosses me the paint color samples — thousands of colors, all bundled together in a block. I fan them out — blood red fades into pastel pink into beige into shades of white with names like antique lace and scallop shell. The blue is at the end. Turquoise and teal and midnight, but no blue just like the robin’s egg. Nothing quite right.

“Hey, Nay-nay, what’s happening?” My brother Sam hauls out a wheelbarrow full of bits of wood, paint chips, and crooked nails. The bones and skin of the dying house.

“I hate blue,” I say.

“Then pick a different color.” A few minutes later I hear the tumbling crash of the wheelbarrow emptying into the dumpster.

I stare at the white wall, patterned with light and shadow from the glass porch ceiling. Why does it need a color? What’s wrong with white?

Two days later, while Mom’s attempting to either make lasagna or burn the house down, it’s hard to tell the difference, I escape to the basement. And I find a stack of cans in the far corner — paint. Blues, reds, yellows, browns — all half-used, and all covered with drips and dust.

I’m not an artist, never have been, never will be. But when I see that paint, I know what I have to do. Dad said any color you like, and I choose all of them.

 

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